What is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is used to categorize two chronic diseases that cause inflammation in the intestines: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although the two diseases may be very similar, there are a few key differences that are important to consider:
Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the large intestine or colon. When ulcerative colitis occurs, the inner lining of the intestine becomes red and swollen leading to the development of ulcers which can be extremely painful. Ulcerative colitis can affect any portion of the large intestine and commonly targets the rectum, which can develop into frequent and painful diarrhea.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract leading to pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. It differs from ulcerative colitis because it can affect any part of the digestive tract from mouth to anus, although it most often affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) and travels through parts of the large intestine. Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation much deeper into the layers of the intestinal wall and include the whole bowel wall. These areas of inflammation can “skip”, leaving normal areas in between these diseased portions. In ulcerative colitis this does not occur.
What Causes IBD?
It is not clear what causes IBD, but researchers believe that multiple factors could trigger the disease including the environment, diet, and genetics. Research has also indicated that patients who smoke are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of IBD?
Signs and symptoms that are in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease is diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. Diarrhea can range from moderate to severe which can lead to dehydration, rapid heartbeat, and a decrease in blood pressure. With insufficient nutrients and loss of fluids stemmed from diarrhea can lead to fever, fatigue, weight loss, pain/cramping and malnutrition. Other common symptoms of IBD include constipation, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and loss of appetite.
Naturopathic Medicine for IBD
The best thing you can do for IBD is to seek proper treatment as soon as possible. IBD is a serious disease, and if left untreated, you could end up with irreversible damage. Patients tend to ignore crucial symptoms that occur which help determine the most beneficial treatment. A Naturopathic Medicine approach to treating IBD can be very effective. Creating a treatment plan with your doctor, nutritional and lifestyle changes, as well as patient compliance all take part in treating IBD.
Dr. Nate Champion is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. If you have any questions about IBD, please contact our office today. We can help determine what tests and treatments are best suited to you.